tv Deadline White House MSNBC August 1, 2017 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
blustered her way through the objections about a meticulous story by the "washington post." >> the statement that don junior issued is true. there is no inaccuracy in the statement. the president weighed in as any father would based on the limited information that he had. this is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence. there was no follow-up. it was dises closed to the proper parties. which is now the "new york times" found out about it to begin with. >> can you talk about the degree to which the president weighed in. >> he weighed in, offered suggestion like any father would do. >> sanders responding to reporting in the "washington post" detailing how press staffers originally proposed dealing with an inquiry about don junior's meeting attra trum tower with russians to get dirt on hillary clinton. the "washington post" reports the strategy the advisers agreed should be for don junior to release a statement to get ahead of the story. they wanted to be truthful so
the account do not be repudiated later if full details emerged. within hours of the president's direction the plan changed. flying home from germany on july 8th aboard air force one trument dictated a statement in which he said he and the russian lawyer discussed a program about the adoption of russian children when they met in june of 2016 according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. that reporting also flies in the face of what trump's attorney said after the statement was first released. >> let me say this. the president, i do want to be clear the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. it came from donald trump jr. >> let's get to our reporters. phillip rucker who shares a by line on the report and kristen welker at the white house. >> first off. jay sekulow should demand to be in the loop with his client before going on a sunday show.
second, the original statement did fall apart, and the white house spent days piecing together an actual account. how did you get to the bottom of where that original sort of mistruth was generated and that it was generated by the president himself? >> reporte . >> reporter: nicolle, we spent several weeks reporting out this story and getting to the bottom of the president's role. the president overruled his advisers to issue the statement that was intentionally misleading, incomplete and resulted in three days of the white house and don junior of having to revise the story until donald trump jr. under pressure from the media released the full contents of the e-mails which showed that the meeting was anything but what was described in the initial statement. >> let me read the original statement to bring folks back in time. some normal people having a normal summer may not remember. here was the original explanation for the meeting. quote, it was a short,
introductory meeting. i asked jared and paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children that was active and popular with american families years ago and was since ended by the russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow-up. he added, i was asked to attend the meeting by an acquaintance but was not told the name of the person i would be meeting with beforehand. he knew exactly who he was meeting with. the person e-mailed him. we have come to learn everyone who was in the room. russians with ties to russian intelligence agencies and, if adoptions came up, that certainly wasn't the selling point. the meeting was sold and the reason jared and manafort attended was because they were promised dirt on hillary clinton. how did this ever get released from someone sort of -- the leader of the free world? >> it's a great question. look, the president's advisers and lawyers and the people who were involved in helping the family work through this inquiry
from the "new york times" a few weeks ago discussed it amongst themselves and concluded the best course of action would be to be as fully transparent as they could be, to rip the band-aid off in one statement. tell the public what you know will come out eventually. they knew the e-mails would be obtained by committees and surface. so they had the strategy. it's the president who overruled the strategy according to our reporting and spent the flight on air force one along with a few of his aides and kind of go-between with donald trump jr. to dictate what that statement would say and how it would mislead the public. >> phillip, you report that two press aides were against this strategy, that press folks are usually for what's going to be, that's the creed we live by. be for what's going to happen. you report a great deal about two press aides who were being more forthcoming, for putting out more of the information. what did they know what was
coming? why were they for putting out more information? >> they knew the full scope of the story, which was that the meeting was not only about russian adoptions but the premise of it had to do with this information about hillary clinton, which, by the way, was provided by the russian government as part of their campaign, the russian campaign to help elect or help donald trump in the election last year. so they knew this would come t out. but the various lawyers involved were also advocating transparency, especially jared kushner's legal team. remember, he was at the meeting, so jared kushner simultaneously was working with his advisers and legal team to develop his statement for the "new york times" story as well. >> phillip, if the two press aides knew the full story, what are the chances that the president didn't know the full story the day before when he met with donald trump and had the private one on one pull-aside with the russian translator
president. >> that's a question that we could not figure out in our reporting. we are just not confident with being able to describe the extent of the president's knowledge, in part because that's inside his head. we're not going to get inside his head, but i would love to have him answer that directly to the american people and say why he knew at the time he dictated that statement what the full scope of this story was. he has maintained that he didn't know about this meeting back in the summer of 2016 when it happened. even if we took his word at a, our reporting suggests that he knew there was certainly more than this russian adoption talking point back when he dictated the statement a few weeks ago. i am just not sure if he was fully read in on the e-mails, if he read them himself. >> phillip, i want to bring in kristen welker into the conversation. the question i have heard from folks -- i have talked to two west wing staffers today who did not rebut anything about phillip and his colleagues' story today,
at least privately. but the one thing that strikes me is that the president's readout of his own conversation with vladimir putin is identical to the statement we now know the president dictated that was not true as the cover story for don junior's meeting. seems like a whole lot of coordinating, if not colluding, with the russians to explain a meeting. >> that's a fair point. and i would raise another issue. i think within this, that phillip's reporting brings to light, which is that, based on my conversations, the president is often talking to staffers about how some of these statements should be crafted. so this is not completely out of the ordinary. and of course, it takes on a whole new meaning when you are dealing with donald trump jr., his eldest son and this incredibly controversial meeting that he had with a russian attorney. it speaks to the level of
transparency here. it speaks to the kocontradictio. hisla his lawyer was on "meet the press" categorically denying he had anything to do with the statement. in a statement his lawyer, jay sekulow, said to me overnight, he didn't deny it though he says some of the details are not pertinent was the language he used. and i think it raises questions about the broader credibility of the administration, and that's why you have some republicans now raising that issue. does this administration have credibility when it comes to this issue, particularly when it comes to the russian matter. sarah huckabee sanders was pressed on that during the briefing today. she fielded a lot of questions about all of these inconsistencies, and of course, she maintains that the president did nothing wrong. the bottom line is, nicolle, i think there is some frustration about the fact that not only was the president involved in this statement and dictating this statement but this is not completely out of the ordinary that he wants to be hands-on when it comes to this type of messaging. >> kristen, what kinds of
staffers -- so we know that the kinds of staffers who were overruled at a strategic level were press staffers. we know what kinds of staffers were on the plane. i think we have video of everyone who got on the plane in hamburg and everyone who got off the plane when they landed in washington. his national security advisers were on board, senior staffers were on board. some who are no longer with the white house. family members were on board. what kinds of staffers would have been the president's partners in overruling strategic advice from press staffers and legal advisers? >> you would think it would be tom of his top advisers. i don't know the specific details surrounding the crafting of that particular response. but there is no doubt that, given the enormity of this, you would think that some of his top advisers would be engaged in thinking about the language and trying to plan it. but this speaks to, i think, the challenges of the new chief of staff, retired general john kelly, as he comes in and tries
to get this white house back on track when it comes to messaging. the president is his own messenger, nicolle, that continues to be a problem within this white house, not only for the chief of staff but whoever takes on the new role of communications director. >> all right. phillip and kristen, stay with us. for more on how this relates to the investigation i want to bring in barbara mcquaid, former u.s. attorney. i want to play you something lindsey graham said this morning on the "today" show and ask you about it on the other side. >> if the president was directly involved in creating that statement, it's not illegal to lie to the press, dos it bother you? >> yeah, it bothers me a lot because, one, he put his son in jeopardy. now we have to wonder about what don junior's team will tell you about what he actually did. if you didn't know about the e-mail, the statement may have fooled you. if you know about the e-mail with don junior, then it's a misleading statement. >> so, if you knew about the e-mail, then it was a misleading
statement. another way to say it was a lie. as is pointed out it's not a crime to lie to the press, unfortunately. we usually catch you but it's not a crime. is it a red flag, though? i understand someone like bob mueller would be looking at state of mind and intent. what does an investigative team like mueller's see when they see a statement that's deliberately misleading directed from the president of the united states to explain a meeting with russians? >> well, anytime somebody is shifting their story, that is some evidence of consciousness of guilt, that you've got something to hide. so yes, it's absolutely a red flag. in this case where it seems apparent that they are investigating obstruction of justice, and a key element of obstruction is to act corruptly, that is, with a bad purpose. then changing your story on something like this is certainly evidence and probative of that bad purpose. so standing alone, it's not a crime. but it could be just another brick in that wall.
>> and how could it be -- i mean, i guess the good purpose could be to protect your son, i guess, if you're trying to be as generous as possible. but what -- what other than an ill purpose or some sort of intent to deceive could be behind the president of the united states dictating a statement that was ill-advised by his own staffers, by people who were also on air force one? what other explanation could there be for the president directing a misleading explanation for a meeting? >> yeah. this example, i think, is misleading and is a bad purpose. the bigger question is, if the president was intending to end the russia investigation when he asked james comey to let this go, when he fired james comey. did he act with a bad purpose there. was it to save government resources because he believed it was frivolous or because he knew that at some point he himself or people close to him could get into trouble. that's the bad purpose we're
looking to build. this is i believe one more brick in the wall to building that case. >> phillip rucker, you are one of the authors of this block-buster news account. the extent of the president's personal intervention for me raises questions about what else he was personally directing. we know he personally fired comey because of the russia investigation. he personally crafted a cover story with don junior's meeting with the russians that echos the conversation he had a day before with vladimir putin. we know he personally never asked james comey about russian meddling in the 2016 campaign. this certainly seems to -- your story is the latest sort of block buster development that seems to have implications not just in understanding the goings-on but in perhaps shedding light on what investigators are looking into, sort of the original question about that relationship or efforts to cover up the nature of the relationship with russia.
>> yeah. it's a great question. what you have here is president trump, you know, acting as his own lawyer and strategist and publicist. and he has hired people to make recommendations and to counsel him and to advise him and his family on how to deal with this russia investigation, and he is rejecting their advice in the instance of this statement and following his own instincts. what we have from our reporting is a number of the president's advisers and people helping him through the russia case growing increasingly alarmed. this is a new episode here for the special counsel to investigate, and they feel like it exposes the president and potentially people around him to some legal jeopardy. it just complicates matters, and it's unnecessary in their view because the president should be keeping his distance and reserving judgment and allowing the professionals around him to make some of these decisions for him. >> barbara mcquaid.
the president's personal attorneys called this fake news, incorrect and misinformed. but sarah huckabee sanders did not knock down this story from the podium today. she explained it as a father doing what any father would do. do people investigating this particular development -- how do they sort of square the president's lawyer's comments which are -- as we saw jay sekulow was obviously not telling the truth. either he was uninformed or intentionally misleading. chuck todd who was interviewing him in the clip we started with and his lawyer again calling this fake news when white house aides are not knocking down the "washington post" report today. >> when i hear the fake news allegation, they're doubling down on the denial, that's yet another red flag for me. so i think that will set off alarm bells for robert mueller to want to investigate further to find out what really happened here. is there some effort to mislead. because the more they protest, the more it makes me think
they've got something to hide. every time there is one of these episodes is creates additional people for mueller and his team to interview. they don't have to interview donald trump jr. or jared kushner to get to the bottom of the story. they can interview some of the aides and the other people on the plane to find out what happened. >> phillip rucker, you are stuck with us for a little longer. when we come back it's a classic whodunit. we'll show you some of the people who boarded air force one in germany for the flight in which the misleading statement was crafted and ask our panel who they suspect to have played a role. also ahead, who jokes about police brutality? ding, ding, ding, president donald trump. how the disgraceful comments are being rebuked by the head of the dea among others. under new management. the staff may fall in line but can anyone tame the president's twitter habit? so far, it looks like we have our answer.
on the left of the screen is president donald trump boarding air force one to leave the g20 summit in germany three weeks ago. on the right of the screen. trump deplaning at joint base andrews. in the time between trump dictated a statement that misled the american people about what went on in his son's infamous 2016 meeting with the russian lawyer. joining me now, associated press white house reporter jonathan lemmeer, matt schlatt.
elise jordan, rick spangle, also an msnbc analyst and phillip rutger is being held hostage for as long as he will stay with me today because he wrote the story. matt, let me get you to weigh in -- i told you i would pour something else in your cup if you needed it. but let me ask you about sort of what seemed to be the twin problems for this white house. one, every debacle as a russia tie-in. two, just the complete and utter incompetence with which incoming crises are handled. >> politician is so different from business. when you're in business and lawyers are swarming, you hold everything close and say nothing. in politics, in the end, it's the american people you're talking to. the extent to which it's drip, drip, drip. things you say they happened one way and you find out later they
happened another. that eats at your credibility. the advice i would give constantly to people in this situation is get it all out. it looks like from what i read, maybe that conversation, of course, was happening, amongst principals in the west wing. get it all out. when you have a special counsel, it all comes out eventually. so put it out there. give an honest answer. the american people are fair. the one thing that's true in all of this is that there is no growing evidence to any collusion in the campaign -- >> well, that's not true. the growing evidence, we learned from the "washington post" today -- >> no. >> so you're not disturbed that the president dictated a lie? >> i don't want to get into me being the professor -- confessor of the president in all these things. my advice -- >> as one of his supporters, are you disturbed by phillip's report that the president directed a statement -- lindsey graham was able to say, yeah, it was misleading. are you not disturbed to the president directed a lie? >> you can characterize it. >> what's true about it?
>> i think what's best for them to do is get out the full truth immediately. >> is there anything true about the statement? >> absolutely. >> the statement does not paint a true and full picture of what happened in the meeting. >> i think that's right. that's why they're -- >> oh my god. i hope you're not on the record accusing bill clinton of parsing a statement. are you parsing saying because -- no, because you can't sit here and lie. >> i'm not sitting here and lying. my advice to them all along is to get everything out immediately. clearly, that statement and the e-mails -- >> i'm asking you a different question. the president directed a lie. how do you feel about that? >> the president did not tell the full story. that's for sure. if he dictated it. you are saying he dictated it. phillip is saying in his report -- >> no one is denying that he dictated it. >> i am. i don't think you know that. >> i talked to four people at the white house today. >> were they on the plane? >> sarah huckabee sanders did
not deny phillip's reporting. >> that's right. i watched her answer, and i think her answer is credible, which is the president did have a hand in crafting this statement. you're jumping and saying he dictated the statement. i know phillip -- >> what was his intent? i am curious what you think about that. >> what was the president's intent? >> i can't get inside the president's head, can you? >> phillip is saying he can't get inside the president's head. >> i can try. he was trying to be deceptive. i agree about the difference between politics and business. business pr 101 is what you say. get it all out immediately. in his career he just shows a little bit each time because he thinks he can deceive you each part of the way. it's a little bit like what vladimir putin does too. they incremental lie. >> shall we stick to the facts? i am not going to play eight on one. if we're going to get subjective on what all our opinions are on what we think trump did, that's an interesting way to approach it. >> prosecutors need to find out
whether there was corrupt intent. >> they'll do that. you had an obama prosecutor on here who explained what she thought would be in play and what wouldn't. that's going to happen in this whole investigation. here is the thing. i guess we're all in the business where we say to the american people what's happening along the way. it will all come out. >> i guess my objection to what you are saying is that no one in the white house has asked the "washington post" to correct their story. that's my understanding, phillip rutger, is that the case as of this hour? >> that's correct. i can tell you guys that our findings in the story and specifically the phrase that the president dictated this statement is based on our reporting with a number of advisers, a number of sources from a number of different walks of life as it relates to this story. so we're very confident in our reporting. >> let me add to phillip's reporting. you can disagree the facts represent a troubling development from the white house but the white house isn't even disagreeing with the facts as detailed in phillip's story.
>> what i heard sarah huckabee sanders say would characterize what happen somewhat differently than how phillip characterized it. my only question, which i wouldn't ask you to give up a source, is that if you said the president dictated it, that means you were standing or sitting right there when the dictation happened. the source would have to be that person. >> or you talked to other -- you don't know it wasn't. elise, weigh in on what ties these together. the bigger question about russia is that the don junior cover story which unravelled. i think, matt, you would acknowledge it unravelled in 24 hours. >> the e-mails came out later. they would have been smarter to put it all out at once. >> right. the story unravelled but the skovr sto cover story is the same story we understood trump to have had a conversation with vladimir putin about the day before. coincidence? >> i find trump's attitude towards russia baffling.
he takes such offense with any slight. we all know how he doesn't hesitate to fire back at his opponents immediately on twitter. but when it comes to russia, they're just immune. just a few days ago russia said, you know, putin expelled over 700 of our diplomats and russian workers at our embassy will no longer be able to work for the u.s. embassy in moscow. nothing. >> why are they taking that action? because he is apparently signing this bill. >> why hasn't he also signed the bill yet? >> let me bring you in, john -- >> i need cognac for these questions. >> let me ask you to weigh in on sort of the white house today dealing with -- it's been a few days, not many, but since they've had a big story like this where obviously sarah huckabee sanders did her job, gathered facts. as we established, she did not deny the story from the podium.
she tried to describe it as what any father would do. >> she tried to describe it as that. she tried to pivot to the idea that democrats were colluding with ukraine, others question the credibility of that argument. this is a white house that remains sort of under water by this issue. they can't ever seem to turn the page. deep frustration among those in the white house. this is a moment where some suggested as phil mentioned, the attempt to get ahead of the story, something they failed to do throughout the narrative. they tried to and the plans were blown up by the president himself. that points to the problems that the new chief of staff faces, where you have a president who fancies himself his best communicator, his own communications director, but yet seems to cause more problems when it comes to this issue, the russia issue, than he ever comes up with solutions. >> a perfect setup to the conversation to come. phillip, a 20-second last word. when you talk to folks inside the white house, you get a lot of, "i don't know. i wasn't in the room."
very short list of remaining suspects. theories on how this was handled? was this sort of circle around the president even smaller than usual? >> it was indeed a tight circle. part of these discussions began before they boarded the plane. so there were strategy talks on the sidelines of the g20 summit and a lot of calls with various lawyers and folks back in washington and new york. but it was a tight circle. >> all right. we'll look for your next piece, as i always do. constantly refreshing the "washington post." when we come back, other presidential speech lands with a thud. the white house under fire for what they describe today as a joke. ♪ ♪ hey, is this our turn? honey...our turn?
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don't be too nice. like when you guys put somebody in the car and you are protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over -- like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody, don't hit their head. i said, you can take the hand away, okay. >> that was the president on friday in an eyebrow raising address to police that invited swift criticism from civil rights groups and law enforcement, including a rebuke just obtained by nbc news from the acting dea administrator, who put out a memo making it clear that the dea does not agree with the president's views. quote, the president in remarks delivered yesterday in new york condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement. today april ryan asked press secretary sarah huckabee sanders about the issue. >> could there be an apology from the president, and what does he view as reasonable when he is not joking when it comes to use of force from police? >> i would have to ask on that
specific question. >> do you think the president is remorseful for what he said because of the outcry from friday? >> i think the president supports our law enforcement, and he supports the protection of the citizens of this country, and he wants to empower our law enforcement to be able to do their job. i don't think there is anything beyond that. >> elise jordan, in fairness, the president actually has a lot of support from cops, from law enforcement, but this was a comment that suggests sort of the no guardrails presidency that brett stevens writes about still hasn't, sort of, learned what the -- it's not about political correctness. it's sort of about the problems that we try to tackle as a good society, as good parents. no one teaches their kids to grow up and be the kind of cops who rough up people. i mean, it's just so out of bounds. not in a politically correct way but in terms of the things we are grappling with as a society. >> harken back to the campaign
in iowa when he said he would pay legal bills of any of his supporters who roughed up protesters at the rallies. this is not a new theme for president trump. his speech at the convention was law and order, he would be the tough guy coming in. this is not rhetoric that i think will ever escape his lexicon because i think it's who he is and what he believes, and he thinks this macho talk is really the way to get things done. >> rick stengel, you look how he's divided -- if you look at sort of the trump base and then you look at the trump critics. within the trump base, he has now had a war against sessions that divided trump people. i would view a lot of rank and file law enforcement folks as some being in the trump base. he has now divided them amongst themselves with the leaders of agencies like the dea having to rebuke these comments. he went to the boy scouts. there were obviously kids who were enthusiastic and happy to see him, but the boy scouts of america had to issue two apologies for the way they
received the president that day. he is now dividing groups that are sort of naturally inclined to want to like him. >> you know, my theory of the case is that, and you all are too young to remember this, the 1960s. he basically -- >> you just made up to matt for everything we put him through. >> flattery will get you everywhere. his political world view such as it is came into being in the '60s when you had hippies and others on one side and law and order republicans, richard nixon, on the other. he went to a military school. he probably, you know, shot darts at the hippies, you know, in the town, and his whole political world view came into this way. so he is recycling an idea that is 40 years old, and it does, it alienates even people on his base because nobody is in favor of the kind of knocking people over the head daily. >> people get sued and fired and go to jail for what he was
talking about. matt, where do you think sort of the check will come from if there is one on this president, not to create self-inflicted crises? >> on all these questions the american people are fair and judge politicians on what they think their motives are. you're right in this case. the fraternal order of police endorsed president trump. they liked a lot of his policies when it came to law and order and the police. this was a joke? nobody is laughing at the joke. there is also nothing wrong with the idea of being tough on crime. here is the irony in all of this. >> matt, i have to -- that's not what he said. >> that's why i said -- >> he wasn't talking about being tough on crime -- >> i am not endorsing his statement. >> you seem to be normalizing it or excusing it. >> i am not playing the role in this panel as the person who says when donald trump is moral and immoral. >> i didn't start the conversation that way. i said these are people inclined to like him. >> my point is this, which is it's ironic when you have a
special counsel who is investigating you. and what you realize in these cases that, guess what, there should be guardrails for prosecutors and there should be guard rails for law enforcement. when you are the victim of those entities when they do wrong, you realize why you have those guardrails and they're absolutely needed. anybody who has been tortured by a prosecutor as many people have, unfairly, realize that. >> i didn't follow your chain. what do you think about the president's comments about roughing up people -- >> sarah huckabee sanders said it from the -- >> i'm asking you what you think. why do you keep quoting sanders? >> i felt the comment was out of line. she said it was a joke. and i said no one is laughing. i don't think it's funny. i don't think he should joke about these things. >> john, how does the president keep ending up in these situations in front of groups largely inclined to like him where the groups end up having to rebuke him? >> he does not adhere to the norms of the presidency. we heard versions of this speech on the campaign.
he would like similar comments that you could interpret as a joke, or not. and he continues to did that now that he is in office. perhaps not fully grasping that his words carry far more weight now. he still does not have a filter. he is still espousing the old-world view, whether from the '60s or '80s when he became a national figure for the first time in new york, a city at the time that was high crime, ravaged by the drug epidemic that set in his mind black and white definitions of law enforcement. he has not modernized some of those beliefs and he is certainly not going to, you know, sort of caution or soften what he is going to say just now because he is in the oval office. >> i want to ask you about his supporters. something i don't think we'll fight about. do you think he's afraid that if he does any of this, if he pulls it back even a hair, that the thing that his supporters love about him. all that irreverence, wears off? >> once again, i don't know. i do know this, people do like
the fact that he is unplugged. it's like all those people who say things that are amazingly whit witty or insightful. at times they're over the line. he definitely lives on the line. there are times when what he says is incredibly offensive to folks. but other times people say he says what's in his heart. i look at the head of the dea and a different problem. this is one of their problems in the agency, which is they took another -- you have a career or democrat taking another potshot at the president when he is low. that's why i am glad general kelly is coming in. they have to start filling the agencies with allies. you have the fop and other groups that are big supporters of trump. i didn't see their voice out there. you have to coordinate with your allies when you make misstatements. they have to tighten this up to be successful. >> are you questioning the motive as political that the dea
responded to? >> it sounded political to me. they hit -- the president makes a statement. if president bush or president obama had made a statement that maybe they wished they could take back or a joke that wasn't funny or however you describe it, their own political wouldn't go out -- this is a political job, remember. the dea is a political job, or should be. it is by statute. they wouldn't immediately attack their own president. >> you don't think it's honorable to saying we're against police brutality. >> he wasn't advocating for police brutality. >> he has to represent his constituency. that's too cynical, seems to me. in fact, the problem with his remarks is, we have come through a period of a couple of years where there is an epidemic of excessive police violence. we've been reckoning with that across the country. excessive police violence. targeted racism, all these things. >> a lot of cops got shot too, let's be honest. >> absolutely. a president can say, i have seen all of that, and i condemn all
of that, but maybe we've gone too far in the opposite direction and we need to be more strict about all of this. that's the way to say it as opposed to saying, bang some heads, have no restraint. that's the problem. the problem is the context. he doesn't have history. he is going back to some earlier mindset. i don't -- i mean, i think we're not actually in that much disagreement about it. >> i don't either. >> we're hitting pause, and then we'll turn to some of the hot spots around the world, after this break. i no longer live with
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>> that was rex tillerson in his first public briefing since taking office six months ago as secretary of state. tillerson revealed today the u.s. is willing to conduct talks with the rogue nation, but there is an indisputable pre-condition. they must get hit of their nuclear weapons. joining me now chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. andrea, i follow you on twitter which is where i saw these big headlines. it seems like he picked a pretty big headline to make in his first-ever televised briefing. >> he did. this is the first time he has even stepped into the briefing room, to our knowledge. six months after taking office he, first of all, said we are open to dialogue with north korea. that has not been said before. he also said that we are not interested in regime change. that contradicts a strong hint from the cia director, mike pompeo, in aspen a week and a half ago, that we were thinking it would be easier if we could separate kim jong-un from these nuclear weapons. this was a pretty big statement
today on north korea. also on russia, which, of course, was one of his areas of strength coming into this office, coming out of the business sector. but the oil patch, knowing vladimir putin, knowing russia as well as he does, he said that the relationship, as he told vladimir putin back in april, when he was visiting moscow, that the relationship is as bad as it's been since the cold war and, he said, now, as he has said to the foreign minister, sergey lavrov, it's even gotten worse. worse, of course, with the announcement from vladimir putin of 755 people being cut from the embassy staff. >> andrea, i know this white house national security team spends a whole lot of time in the sit room dealing with a lot of unappealing policy options on north korea. it seemed like tillerson's audience today wasn't the usual audience of the chinese leadership. this seemed to be a message directed at kim jong-un. is that how you heard it? >> absolutely. he said we are not your enemy.
he is talking directly to kim jong-un. >> right! >> it was remarkable. >> i wonder if he has cable. >> the fact is -- he certainly has cyber. we know that. >> sony does too. >> the fact is, we are tonight launching another test of an icbm from vandenberg air force base. so there are carrots and sticks. today was the carrots. tonight are the sticks. the fact is, we've got plenty of military weaponry but no real way to do a first strike, despite what people are saying. they keep the military options open, as you know from having worked in the white house. there is always a military option for every place in the world, but this has really flummoxed them, to use a non-technical term, because we don't have a way of seeing what is underground in north korea. as i was asking, you know, dianne feinstein, formerly the intelligence chair, now the ranking democrat on judiciary but still on intelligence, she was just briefed by secretary mattis, and she confirmed my
supposition that they have these mobile launchers, they are solid state fuel, not liquid fuel, meaning they don't have to be on the launch pad for very long. they move underground in tunnels. we don't know where everything is. to even speak of a first strike against north korea means we will not be able to target everything, we will not be able to take out their nuclear weapons and there will be retaliation and the retaliation will be devastating. it has to be resolved diplomatically. >> i watched your interview with senator feinstein. i watched her face turn white when you played the lindsey graham sound. thank you. >> one more thing. this was a remarkable day. it was his first q&a in the briefing room, the first time he has entered the briefing room. and after six months, it's the first time i got a question. >> there's that! thank you for jumping in with that. i hear an msnbc promo in the making there. andrea mitchell, thank you for making time for us. thank you for getting in a
question, and thank you for talking to us about north korea. i am going to bring in susan glasser. politico international affairs columnist to keep up the conversation. big headlines being made as andrea politico's international affairs columist to keep up this conversation. big headlines being made in the first-ever televised briefing on north korea and russia. let's spend a little more time on this u.s.-russia relationship. president trump supporters and detractors probably describe him as boxed in on the vote on sanctions from congress, bipartisan, overwhelmingly backed vote, to enforce sanctions on russia. what do you think the russians are planning that we don't know about? we know about their expulsions of hundreds of diplomats who are just unemployed russians. but what else do we think that vladamir putin is planning as
some say this trump bet has somehow backfired. >> reporter: i do think it's notable we haven't heard from president trump, either on the expulsion of the u.s. diplomats by russia. normally the thing you would expect from the white house. and we still haven't heard him take action on signing the sanctions bill. secretary tillerson, amazing that it's been six months for him to give his first briefing. he himself didn't even 100% commit. he said all indications are that president trump will sign the bill. even tillerson is still wavering a little bit. but what else could russia do? one thing you see happening are major military exercises as president putin moves his forces into the annual exercises. and looking basically to practice what they would do that
would basically bring in a significant amount of more troops toward the border with the baltic states, toward the borders with belarus, ukraine, and many people wonder august in the past has been a moment of very significant events in russia. you remember the august 1991 coup. but there was also the invasion of georgia, which happened during president bush's tenure. people are very jittery and nervous. this is, i think, one of the consequences of no one being sure what is the russia policy right now toward russia? so you have this moment of hostility coinciding with major uncertainty, as no one knows what president trump will do now that his options have been constrained by the u.s. congress. >> susan, what effects -- everyone seems to know how unenthusiastic president trump is about the sanctions bill. what effect does that have in countries like ukraine, some of our more vulnerable nato allies?
>> you have vice president pence on a tour, a reassurance tour of our eastern european partners, and he's going around and saying how committed the united states is to article v, the mutual defense provision of the nato treaty. he's going to ukraine and georgia and saying don't worry, we're still with you. the question, of course, has always been from the very beginning, how seriously and credibly do you take the foreign policy announcement ofrs oppose president trump himself? >> we're going to keep having this conversation, susan. keep yourself free in the 4:00 hour. thank you so much for spending time with us. up next, president trump's west wing is under new management, but can the new chief of staff do anything about the president's appetite for chaos?
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it's general john kelly's first full day on the job. there are whispers one of his first moves afterfi firing scaramucci has been to seal off the oval office. but one area that doesn't seem to be under his control, twitter. the president was back at it today, thank god. i for one, jonathan, really, really, really hope he never stops tweeting. >> every white house reporter agrees. >> take us back. he announced his new chief of staff on friday and we were
consumed by the scaramucci news yesterday. but talk about the kelly reign so far. >> he has a tall task ahead of him. the appointment was made on friday by twitter. yesterday, his first order of business, he sent scaramucci packing. now he's starting to page some changes to how the west wing runs. to this point, the president ran the west wing like his business, he liked people coming and going. it was very common to be in the hallway, an an aide would try to convince him to change his mind on one topic or another. that is not how a west wing usually works, and that general kelly is trying to limit some of that. he's trying to reduce some of the walk-in access into the oval office and keep the president on a more regimented schedule in terms of what he's doing and who he's talking to. he is not, of course, cut back on twitter.
one could read that tweet as a direction at general kelly saying i'm not giving up my twitter. >> contrary to some reporting, ivanka and jared are perfectly willing to allow kelly -- >> people get confused on two things. they say the chief of staff is a gate keeper. if the right people in the oval office can give the president a couple of different options and he has to make a decision on what's leading up to north korea. but there's been all this desire to micromanage who gets in and who doesn't get in. >> and any commissioned officer technically reports to the president. >> that's right. so the chief of staff comes up with the order to the process. he's really not the person standing outside the door saying let me see your i.d. but this president likes to hear
from a lot of different people. and he likes to talk to his family, which that's not going to change. >> something yesterday that i thought was a great idea, andy card was on one of the shows and he suggested that perhaps the staff secretary proof tweet for president trump. >> we'll keep this going. we'll debate reigning in presidential tweets. my thanks to my panel. that does it for this hour. i'm nicolle wallace. "mtp daily" starts right now with chuck todd. >> good luck to that person who wants to be the twitter editor. if it's tuesday, does the white house have a flake news problem? tonight, taking on trump. >> to be conservative, you can't embrace conspiracy theorys or to talk about alternative facts. >> is this jt